Method 1: Agree

Strategy 1A: Making a Friend (Admiring the Castle)

You ally yourself with a scholar. You can do this in two different ways:

  • First, you can present your reader with research that another scholar has done, so you don’t have to redo that research.
  • Second, you can state your agreement with another scholar’s overarching argument.

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Why use this strategy?

Sometimes you fundamentally agree with the ideas of another scholar. This strategy is useful for helping you support a facet of a larger argument you want to make; presenting the work of another scholar can offer a solid foundation for your own argument.

Watch out for:

Overusing this strategy can make it difficult to establish your own argument.

Best use:

  • You want to show that another scholar has done experiments or original research that will help you prove your argument. Cite this work and move on to your own analysis.
  • You want to show that another scholar’s work has been influential in helping you to develop your own argument. If you fundamentally agree with the claims that scholar has made, this strategy enables you to demonstrate the importance of that earlier work.
  • You are drawing on scholarship outside your field–i.e., a literary scholar writing about Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun might consult sociological studies about mid-20th-century Chicago, where the play is set, without intending to build on the sociological knowledge produced in those studies.


Strategy 1B: Helping a Friend (adding a new tower to the castle)

You agree with a scholar’s claims but point out something they didn’t consider, or apply their claims to a new situation.
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Why use this strategy?

This strategy allows you to build on the argument of an established scholar using your own evidence and analysis.

Watch out for:

Make sure you’re not adding a tower that already exists.

Best uses:

  • Apply the scholar’s argument to a new domain: show how the argument is relevant to something outside the scope of the author’s original discussion. For example, you could use an anthropologist’s work to help you analyze a literary text. Or you can show how a literary scholar’s argument about gender dynamics in a text can also help you analyze class dynamics.
  • Draw on the scholar’s terms, concepts, and ideas as a starting point. For example, you might like the way the author defines a particular term and use their definition to help build your own argument.